His name is Brandon, he’s 10 years old, and he loves his little white dog
I have been writing. I promise. But lately, I’ve been spending every spare minute on my next middle grade chapter book. And it’s keeping my fingers and my brain very happily busy. I wrote the first one, Taking Care of Susie, after my dog died. I took her passing pretty hard, and figured that since I’m a writer at heart, maybe a fictional story about her would help me heal.
My own Susie was an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie cross. She was a big girl, and probably the sweetest dog you’d ever hope to meet. Yeah, that was my Susie. Just plain sweet. Much too sweet for the nightmare I brought her into. See, I was still married to Ex Number One when I met her in that shelter, still living in a hell I’m unable to face directly, to this day. And let’s just say my dog’s life wasn’t a romp in the park.
One of the things I’m trying to work through in therapy is the guilt I feel about that. But my therapist assures me, “For guilt to be present, there has to be willful intent.” There wasn’t. I meant my beautiful dog no harm, but I still don’t entirely believe him about the absence of guilt. She still got hurt, and I was there to let it happen.
So, when I sat down to write this fictional story, I wanted to describe the way I wish my dog’s life had been — in the arms of people who took good care of her, involved her in all aspects of their lives, and returned all the love she tried to give them. Then maybe, if the real Susie ever looks back at me from Rainbow Bridge, she might understand how sorry I am. She might even forgive me.
Sitting at the keyboard, there was another thing I couldn’t face directly — her size and breed. My sorrow was just too raw to create a mirror image of my 40-pound herding dog. And I was beginning to get a vision of the main character, a little boy about ten years old. As the scenes began to play in my head, a big dog just didn’t “fit” into this little guy’s arms. So, the fictional Susie became a very small white dog — ten pounds soaking wet, with a pedigree so complex that a veterinarian couldn’t figure it out.
And the little boy. He’s just as sweet as his dog. I decided to name him Brandon. Why? *shrug* Because that’s the name that jumped off the…